September 20, 2006


I had a dream the other night. I woke up in a cold sweat, the story pounding through my head, and suddenly I knew I couldn't sleep until I'd written it down. Let me know what you think.


"Silence!!" she bellowed, her voice rising over the clamor, bringing quiet to the room.

"Why does a voice echo in a room made of wood?" she asked.

"It's because of ..." started another student, silenced by an icy glare.

"I know what an echo is," she said slowly. "An echo is created when sound bounces off of a hard surface. Nobody likes a hard surface; you do not like bread that is too hard, nor a pillow or bed that is too hard. You do not want to fall onto hard stone, and you certainly don't want to be hit with a hard bat. Nor," she spoke more quietly, thoughtfully, "do those with hard hearts bring you any joy whatsoever." She paused as many considered this.

"But," she continued, "soft is no good either. A pillow that is too soft will not support your head. Water is too soft a surface to stand upon (though many would prefer to drift over it on hard surfaces), the children of soft parents are trying at the best of times, and air ... well air is enough to give us life, yet we move through it without a second thought."

"No," she said, "we must be careful to balance hard with soft. A hard heart is good for no one - its owner cares for no one. Rules are hard as well; they attempt to anticipate specifics for situations that have not happened yet. Likewise, a soft head is good for nothing but taking up space between one's ears; nobody profited by a soft head, least of all its owner."

"Child," asked a professor, his voice at once gentle yet firm, "do you propose a solution or are you simply wasting this school's time?"

"Of course I have an answer, I would not risk such a display if I didn't. The answer is principles. Principles are the perfect synthesis of hard and soft; they guide but do not injure. They are at once firm enough to stand upon but light enough to move through. A hard head and a soft heart, one might say. Case in point: The New Testement is loaded with principles but void of mandated rules."

"But what about the old testement? The ten commandments?" Another student looked up at her from a seat to her right, an innocent but quizzical expression on his face. "Aren't those rules?"

"Quite so," she said, "but what manner of rules? They do not speak to a situation, but to many situations. 'Have no gods before Me' is not so much a rule as it is a guide - how best to love God is to avoid all others that would steal His glory. 'Do not commit murder' is a principle. Jesus recognized this, he summed up all ten commandments into two: 'Love the Lord with your heart, soul, mind, and strength' is a principle. 'Love your neighbor as yourself' is a principle, not a rule.

"Think of the ten commandments as principles to explain how one is to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength and how to love their neighbor as themselves. One can always turn to a principle for the answer in any situation; you might say that it's the spirit of the thing. You can fight for a principle; you cannot fight for a rule."

1 comment:

Sarah said...

wow. Very profound dream, Chris. I like how you wrote it out, though I'm sure it's not just you writing that one. Something to learn from, definitely.